Twyfelfontein is a rocky site situated in the Kunene Region of north western Namibia. The site contains around 2,000 rock carvings and in 2007, UNESCO approved it as a World Heritage Site. The site is one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa, and was proclaimed a National Monument in 1952. It is thought as many as 40 000 people a year now visit the site, making it one of the more popular tourist destinations in Namibia.
News of the site first reached the western world when Reinhard Maack included Twyfelfontein in a report during 1921, he is thought to have been informed of the existence of the engravings by a land surveyor. Of course the local inhabitants had been aware of the site much earlier than this time however it is thought they avoided the engravings as they respected the place as a sacred area which was inhabited by spirits of the deceased.
At some time during 1946 a farmer settled on the land, he named it Twyfelfontein (meaning doubtful fountain in Afrikaans). It is thought he chose this name as he was unsure whether the spring called /Ui-//aes on the farm would provide enough water to support his family and livestock. In 1971, under the segregation laws of apartheid, the area was allocated as communal land for the exclusive use of Damara farmers and the region which now roughly encompasses the area called Kunene Province was renamed Damaraland (a name which is still widely used today)
A visitors centre has been erected at Twyfelfontein, it was built and designed to blend into the red sandstone of the environment. The building contains no cement and uses predominantly recycled and local materials, the whole center can be easily dismantled leaving no impression on the landscape. The visitors centre contains display detailing the local fauna and fauna, the meaning of the engravings and the history of the site.
A series of stone pathways has been laid (to reduce erosion)- these lead to viewing platforms which allow visitors a gain an excellent view of the major engravings.
Rock Paintings & Engravings
One of the most prominent collections of rock paintings and engravings in Namibia can be viewed at Twyfelfontein, (doubtful spring). Twyfelfontein itself lies some 550m above sea level and there are some 2,500 rock engravings on 212 slabs of rock, with an additional 13 panels embracing further examples of rock paintings. Stone artefacts and 'stone tool manufacturing debris' can also be found here.
As Twyfelfontein lies in a valley, it is flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain, covered in a hard patina. The early Stone Age artists, probably the work of San hunters, chiselled through this incrustation to produce their art work and in time the patina reformed over the engravings protecting them from weathering. Stone Age hunters and animals were attracted to this small perennial spring, the only one of its kind in the area.
There are 17 different sites at Twyfelfontein of rock paintings, totalling 212 stone slabs covered with engravings. It is these pieces of Stone Age art that lends the importance of Twyfelfontein, as opposed to that of the rock paintings and stone artefacts. The most famous and to some, the most impressive rock engravings are:
There are 13 sites containing rock paintings set amongst the numerous rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. The sites of rock paintings and engravings were proclaimed a national monument on 15th August 1952.
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